Late Song by Lauris Edmond
26 June 2003


This is my first serious anthology of poetry (there was another by James K Baxter, a long time ago, before I started litblogging). It's the last anthology of a well-respected New Zealand poet, known as a "domestic poet" for her work on love, home and family. An important series was also inspired by her friendship with inmates of Arohata women's prison; several of these appear in Late Song.

I enjoyed and understood most of the poems here. Just a few did I fail to relate to, and they deal with subjects unfamiliar to me: marriage, old age, grandchildren. Many of the others express the images that I so often want to express, but lack, not words, but structures to do so:

Rain... moving in the dark, quiet and busy
Outside my open door
I feel that ideas are only valuable in novels and other longer forms, that in the poem and short story the image is the most important feature. I am a visual person, I love images and I love it when a poet says something in a way I recognise utterly:
her drink spilt there
was red wine everywhere... suddenly I put my glass down
on a windowsill and went home
And one made me cry. I don't cry over poems. I cried over Afternoon at Akatarawa where a young Maori man does something unbelievably beautiful for a dead friend (possibly Edmond's own daughter, dead by suicide at a young age): "A salute. For a chief only. For her."


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